Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Valmiki of Ramayana knew Tamil! (Spoken language of ancient India - part 1)


Disclaimer: I hereby declare that there is no chauvinistic intention of promoting Tamil, which happens to be my mother tongue, in the series of articles beginning with the present one. The intention is to bring to the notice of readers, the presence of Tamil alongside Sanskrit in the Indian Subcontinent for many thousands of years. A deeper analysis might give us leads on why a fused Tamil and Sanskrit presence can be seen from India to Ireland to Ice land and from Polynesia to the Incas.


The linguistic studies of the past two centuries had led us to believe that there existed a language division in India as Dravidian and Indo European. But anyone with some knowledge of Tamil Sangam texts and an exposure to Valmiki Ramayana and Mahabharata, would say that this is wrong. For many thousands of years there existed only two languages in India, a human tongue, called as Manushya Bhasha in Valmiki Ramayana and a divine tongue, the Deva bhasha. Though there is no doubt about what was known as Deva bhasha, not much research was done on what was known as Manushya Bhasha. That Manushya Bhasha must have been a language spoken in South India (because Hanuman knew that), in North India (because Sita knew that) and even in Srilanka because that is where Hanuman and Sita spoke, part of which could have been overheard by the guards of Sita.

My continuing association with the three (Olden Tamil texts, Ramayana of Valimki and Mahabharata) led me to deduce that Tamil was spoken as the Manushya Bhasha throughout the length and breadth of the Indian sub continent. While refined Tamil was spoken in core Tamil lands where the Sangam assemblies were held, a form of proto Tamil (that existed before Tamil was refined with Grammar) continued to be present in the rest of India. In course of time this proto Tamil fused with Sanskrit and gave rise to other languages of India.  In this series, I would be placing on record the proofs for all these. Let me begin with Valmiki. It is everybody's knowledge that Valmiki wrote the Ramayana in Sanskrit. What many do not know is that Valmiki knew Tamil also and had authored some Tamil works!

The present article brings them out. The original was written in Tamil in 2011. It can be read here: http://thamizhan-thiravidana.blogspot.in/2011/08/65.html (வால்மீகியும், தமிழும்.)

 My sincere thanks to Mr TG Saranathan (Former chief of Telecom, Tamilnadu Circle) for translating this article from Tamil.



Tholkappiyam [tholkAppiyam] is considered as the oldest Tamil grammar available in Tamil literature. It states that Tamil language was taught as three types: Primary, Intermediary and Secondary.  In his interpreation, Nachhinarkiniyar, an early commentator for Tholkappiyam, says that the First category or the Primary education was the study of Tamil poetic works of Iraiyanar (Lord Shiva), Agastya, Markandeya, Valmiki, Gautama and the likes. This is a thought provoking statement.

("தமிழ்ச் செய்யுட் கண்ணும் இறையனாரும்,  




கவுதமனாரும் போலார் செய்தன தலை".)


We know Valmiki as the famous Author of Srimad Ramayanam. But here, if we think that studying that epic Ramayanam of Valmiki, is the Primary learning, then it is  not so! The words "Tamil poetic works of Valmiki" clearly indicate that Valmiki had composed poems in Tamil.

When we search for works of Valmiki in Tamil, we find that  the 358th poem in Purananuru is by Valmiki [Factually it is mentioned as Vanmiki. But in Tamil letters 'l' and 'n' are interchangeable] . In writing the history of the poets of Purananuru, Dr.U.V.Swaminatha Iyer, considered as Grand father of Tamil, records that a Poet named Valmiki lived during the 1st Sangam period. But due to non-availability of supporting data, he concluded that this Valmiki and Ramayana Valmiki were different.

But the name Valmiki came into being due to a specific reason. Valmiki's original name was Ratnakar (Prachedas) Since because he was covered by an ant- hill from which he emerged, he gained the name Valmiki. Due to the specific causative nature of this name, it is not possible that two different persons could have got the name, Valmiki. One may say that there is a community in Andhra Pradesh, with Valmiki as family title. But this name was adopted only a few hundred years ago.

There is no indication of existence of two Valmikis, one in Sanskrit and another in Tamil literature. But the fact remains that the name Valmiki exists in Tamil works. Nachhinarkkiniyar says that people studied the Tamil works of Valmiki.

Searching for the Tamil works of Valmiki, there is one in the Sangam literature of Purananuru. There is another as a collection of Tamil poems attributed to Valmiki Siddhar, under the name Valmiki Sixteen (vAlmIkan padhinARu). Yet another composition bearing his name is  Srimad Ramayanam is in Sanskrit.

If we examine all these three works it is evident that the same Valmiki has rendered all of them.

In all these three works, a common theme is found. That theme is - Sri or Lakshmi, also referred to as Mother, who incarnated as Sita


Valmiki Ramayanam starts with the words 'mA nishAdha' and the word 'mA' denotes Mother according to scholars.

The Siddha work, 'Valmiki Sixteen' also emphasizes worshiping Mother and importance Vedas. ( 'தாயாரைப் பூசித்து வேதம் ஓது')This is different from other Siddhas' works. The Purananuru verse also speaks about the glory of Sri, the Mother.

Since we find Mother who is identified as Lakshmi or Sri as the main theme in all these three works, we can conclude that the same person - Valmiki- has authored all of them. Let us analyse the verses of Valmiki to understand this.

Purananooru:  358th verse.

It is a seven line poem found by Dr U.V.Swaminatha Iyer in the old palm leaf compilations of Puranauru. It bears the poet's name as "Vaanmeekiyaar" or VaanmIkaiyaar" in different palm leaves. Both are the Tamilsed forms of Vaalmiki. As a mark of respect, a suffix "aar" is added to the name. Therefore Valmiki +aar = Valmikiyaar in Tamil. The verse is as follows:

"பரிதி சூழ்ந்த விப்பயன்கேழு மாநிலம்
ஒரு பகல் எழுவர் எய்தியற்றே
வையமும் தவமும் தூக்கிற்றவக்துக்
கையவி யனைத்து மாற்றா தாகலிர்
கைவிட்டனரே காதலர் அதனால்
விட்டோரை விடாள் திருவே
விடாதோர் இவள் விடப்பட்டோரே "

Meaning in Tamil

இந்த உலகம் எல்லாப்பக்கங்களிலும் சூரியனால் சூழப்பட்டு, அதாவது அதன் ஒளியால் சூழப்பட்டு, அந்த சூரியன் பொருட்டு கொடுக்கப்படும் அவிப்பயனையும் பெற்று, ஒரு பகலில் ஏழு பேர்களால் (ஏழு ஓரைகள்) அடையப்படுகிறது. அப்படிப்பட்ட இந்த உலகத்தின் பொருட்டு கிடைக்கின்ற பயனையும், தவத்தின் பயனையும், ஒரு தராசில் எடை பார்த்தால், உலக இன்பத்தால் கிடைக்கும் பயன், ஒரு வெண்சிறுகடுகளவும் இருக்காது. அதனால் காதலர்கள் (காதலர் = வீடு பேறு விரும்புவோர்). உலக இன்பத்தைக் கைவிட்டனர். அப்படி விட்டவர்களை திரு என்னும் லக்ஷ்மியானவள் கைவிட மாட்டாள். ஆனால் உலக இன்பங்களை விடாதவர்களை லக்ஷ்மியானவள் கை விட்டு விடுவாள்.


In the Tamil grammar rules for poetry, this verse has been classified under the main heading "Householder's dharma" (Gruhastha dharma) and the sub heading of a diametrically opposite theme of "Asceticism" (Sanyasa Dharma)! The meaning of this verse explains this strange combination. It is as follows:

 "This World surrounded on all sides by the brilliance of Sun, accepts the offerings made to the Sun (god) and attains benefits with the efforts of Seven persons (horas) in the day. If we judiciously compare such benefits attained by this World  and the benefits of penance, the benefits got by the World would be trivial. Therefore, lovers (desirous of Eternal bliss or Moksham) would forego Worldly pleasures. Such people are never deserted by Sri (Lakshmi). But those who are after Worldly pleasures, would be deserted by Her"

Normally, we assume that Sri or Lakshmi is responsible for our Worldly wealth. She bestows the wealth. In this verse Valmiki makes a subtle distinction between whether we should seek Sri / Lakshmi Herself or her gift of wealth. He gives a solution too that we should select the former. If we are after Her – and not after the wealth that she gives, we would not be deserted by Her. In this he gives a subtle Vaishnavite idea that She is the prime facilitator for Moksha or Liberation. It is because of Her blessings, one is blessed to attain salvation granted by Vishnu (or Rama if we take the events of Ramayana into consideration. The glory of Sri or Sita is the foremost theme of Ramayana. This work was indeed named as "sIthAyA charitham mahath" by Valmiki. He did not coin the name Ramayana.). The poem conveys that if we are after mere wealth, Sri or  Lakshmi would desert us; but if we pursue Eternal bliss and forego the material wealth, Sri Lakshmi will never desert us. Such persons graced by Her, would attain siddhi or unusual skills, mind control and Eternal bliss or Moksham.

As if to continue with this theme, the Valmiki Sixteen also conveys the same concept.

The theme in the 16 verses of the Valmiki Sixteen is different from the themes of all other works of other Siddhas. All others praise lord Shiva as the Ultimate God who blesses one with Moksha. But Valmiki differs from them. In the very first verse of Valmiki Sixteen, he says that Shiv Shakti emerged from Vishnu, the Consort of Sri / Lakshmi.

'சிவசக்தி திருமாலின் ரூபமாகும்.

வருமுருவே சிவசக்தி வடிவமாகும்'

This concept is radically different from the concept of other Siddhas. This is conceded by the poet Valmiki himself in subsequent verses. He mentions in the 11th verse that seeing his concept to be different, other Siddhas complained to Lord Shiva. Poet Valmiki says further, that Shiva was angry with those Siddhas only. His theme (of Vishnu being the Primary force from which Shiva- Shakthi emerged) conveyed in these poems were regarded as the key (to understand all poems of all other Siddhas.


சிவசிவா பதினெண்பேர் பாடற் கெல்லாம்
திறவுகோல் வால்மீகன் பதினாறாகும்:
சிவம்பெத்த சித்தரேல்லா மென்னூல் பார்த்துச்
சிவனோடே கோள் சொன்னார் சினந்தான் நாதன்:
அவமாகிப் போகாமல் சிவனுத் தார
அருளினால் திறந்து சொன்னேன் உலகுக்காக:
நவமான நவக்கிரகம் தன்னுளேயே
நாக்கு வாய் செவி மூக்கு மத்திக்கப்பால். (11)


நாக்கு வாய் செவி மூக்கு மத்திக் கப்பால்
நடுவீதி குய்ய முதல் உச்சி தொட்டுத்
தாக்குவாய் அங்கென்ற அதிலே முட்டுத்
தாயாரைப் பூசித்து வேதம் ஓது: (12)


While the other Siddhas preached to forsake Vedas, this poet Valmiki preached that people must to chant Vedas. In addition  he says that Vedas should be pursued after worshiping Divine Mother.

One might argue that this Mother is the Shakti in Shiv-Shakti. But this poet and also other Siddhas have regarded Shiv-Shakti as Father- Mother as being together - Parents - as a single entity. No siddha has preached to worship Mother alone. In fact Siddhas have glorified Ardsnareeswara - half male-half female- image of Shiva, as a singular entity. Moreover the  Siddhas have indicated Shakti separately as Shakti and not the way Poet Valmiki had done.

Poet Valmiki's concept is found in Vedas also. There is a verse in Sri Sooktham  in Rig Veda which says that it is far better to get Sri rather than getting Her gift of wealth. The verse of Purananooru and Valmiki Sixteen follow this Vedic concept.

Valmiki while writing Ramayana describes it as 'sIthAyA charitham mahath' (the Great History of Sita). In the final days of Sita in this World, Valmiki gave Her parental protection and remained devoted to Her. The affection he had for Sita was very great. Therefore, we are tempted, after observing the glory of Mother in the Tamil works, to believe that Valmiki of Ramayana had rendered the Tamil poems too.

In Tamilnadu, there are two places connected with Valmiki : Ettikkudi and Tiruvanmiyur(Chennai).

Thiruvanmiyur is the place where Valmiki had worshiped Lord Shiva as Marundeeshwara. (Shiva who is Himself the medicine that cures)

 In the Sthala Purana (temple history) of Marundeeswara temple in Tiruvanmiyur, Valmiki's history is narrated. This is same as the history of Valmiki who wrote Ramayana. In reality, Valmiki was the son of a sage and his original name w